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Mumbai Police on Saturday inaugurated its 'Social Media Lab', which has been set up to keep tabs on current public opinion.
Police said the initiative, which has been undertaken for the first time in Mumbai, was aimed at better intelligence gathering as information spreads the fastest on social media.
The laboratory will be staffed with 20 trained policemen, who will work in shifts and scroll through content on social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook.
"This is part of proactive policing. It is important to know what people are thinking and saying. There have been occasions when police have been left behind as they were not aware of what was being talked about. We need to have our fingers on the pulse of the city," Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh said.
Singh was quick to clarify that the initiative was not an invasion of privacy, and would only aim at monitoring content in public domain.
Police sources said the lab would use a special trawling software, which would sift through content on social media and single out potentially troublesome content.
The inauguration was attended by Rajan Luthra from the Reliance Foundation, Rajiv Vaishnav, vice president, NASSCOM, cyber expert Vijay Mukhi and actor Abhishek Bachchan, who is active on Twitter.
"We as aam aadmi (common man) are quick to ask what the system is doing, and particularly question law enforcement agencies. It is easy to point fingers but far more difficult to be at the receiving end. I think it is time we started being part of the system," Bachchan said, adding, "I will now be careful about what I say on Twitter but I'd like to tell police that I'll be following you, too."